Near North school board chair not surprised Widdifield closure delayed
Dave Thompson, the chair of the Near North District School Board, says there’s a major cost with keeping Widdifield High School open beyond the original intended closure date of next June.
Thompson says the school is staying open because the new Ford government didn’t open the doors soon enough for capital funding projects.
Without those fund, Thompson says it’s not possible to modify West Ferris and Chippewa so that they can accommodate the Widdifield students after this school year.
Thompson says all 72 boards in Ontario that were looking at closing schools are in the same boat and have to hold off on any closures.
However, he adds there’s a price to pay for this.
Thompson says because schools need to be safe, it means spending money on them regularly for repairs and anything else that comes up.
Thompson agrees the schools need to be safe but also points out that it means spending money on schools that will close sooner than later.
“It’s going to cost more to keep these schools open and fix them,” Thompson said.
“And (later) you’re going to close them. It’s a Catch 22.”
Thompson gets that the Tories campaigned on not closing any rural schools, reviewing the ARC process and how to fix schools.
But he adds now that they’re the government they need to come up with the answers because withholding money on capital funding projects affects all school boards across Ontario.
Thompson says it’s only fair that new governments want to take a step back to see what the previous government did and the Ford government has only been in power for three months.
But he warns “this decision may catch up to them” and now everything is on hold for a good long while.